Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Summary of Successes

Waiting for the train ~ by Husband 
Just watched Baz Luhrmann's "Australia"
Boy its a long movie. And it should make every viewer realise what a sad tale the aboriginal people have been left to tell as part of their story. Watching it made me ashamed of my forefathers and wish to know more of the heritage of this country. From my heart, I too say 'sorry'.

I remember as a child, taking several family trips across the Nullarbor ~ travelling by car from Melbourne to Perth and back over Christmas/Summer holidays. We've stayed in caravan parks along the way and a vivid memory of noticeable change through time was that of the aboriginal along the Nullarbor Plains. I remember in the early 70s, driving along the 'old' highway, seeing native Australian's along side the road dressed as King George (David Gulpilil) standing with their spears ~ hair blowing wildly in the wind ~ in their environmental home and free.
The new highway across the Nullarbor 
On a second journey, 4-5 years later, I remember seeing a similar sight ~ only this time the aborigines were dressed in denim and flannel type shirts or topless. They still carried the spears and their skin was an even glossier black than I recall from the first time. By the third journey across the great Nullarbor Plains, I remember only seeing aborigines close to the road houses, sitting on eskies and drinking beer. I don't think I saw any during my final family holiday to Perth.  Even as a teenager, my thoughts were that my children would never see the sights, sounds and people of those who arrived in Australia first ~ unless through a paid performance or heritage art.

So memories from my youth ~ ones which have stayed with me. Journeys taken with a family the size of mine (six kids, three adults, one station-wagon and a caravan) do tend to stick with you for a long long time. One day I hope SmallBoy will be able to follow his dream to see the outback and learn a native language by taking his own 'walk-about'.

Sometimes you stop, wait and look first
Our Mission Moves On
We are making in-roads and, although the financial page has not been updated as the happenings around our home has taken up a lot of physical time (and break-thru pain relief makes the ol' brain a little loopy), I'd like to share some of the successes we have made of late.

Telstra - hahaha ~ well, we got our money back as a payment into the account and NOT a credit. A $450 credit would have lasted us 21 months - almost two years. What on earth would we want that when the deduction from the credit card was incurring interest and leaving us with no emergency back up. Any way - it is sorted. Actually, we are in credit on the Telstra bill by $148.98 - so no bill payments required for about 7months. There's a small stress reliever!

Electricity ~ woo hoo ~ we have almost paid off the $850 arrears. Only two more fortnightly payments and we have! Plus, thanks to the next success on the list our electricity bill will be dramatically lower as the ol' power-guzzler is gone...
Two good, working units 
Refrigerator Rental ~ woo hoo (again) ~ it is finalised. We have $44 extra in the fortnightly budget ~ going to be spread around other outstanding bills.  Plus we get to keep the fridge! Nice!! Subsequently we have given the old power guzzling fridge/freezer away to another family to use while they save for their own good refrigerator and not need to hire, rent or pay one off using one of the GE Money type arrangements. Win-Win! Lesson learnt ~ never ever hire white-goods...

Council Home Help account ~ chipping away slowly with $2 a month has not made any great dent in this puppy, but it has ensured we are not having the account sent off to the debt collectors. This alone will save us a huge headache and stress melt-down.

The Line of Credit ~ well I am chuffed we've been able to get $800 in there over 8 weeks - especially when we only get $600 in per week and the mortgage takes half of this! I can't wait until February when the NIVA is reduced to $1000 - it will be more like emergency money then.

School Fees ~ $5 more and its all paid. Just in time for the new school year. SmallBoy has a small scholarship which will cover every thing needed for this year, excluding camp.

Dental Fees ~ believe it or not, we overpaid them by $10 so last appointment Husband walked out with a filling AND $10. It was paid onto the Personal Loan

Personal Loan ~ oh this is just not disappearing quickly enough. It's down to $3047 but the loan repayments are a quarter of our monthly income. Ridiculous really ~ but we weren't on government payments when we bought the share of a holiday property - it is worth it in the long run and we've had the chance to use it twice ourselves and twice by friends in the past two years. It's an investment of sorts, costs more than double the $10k we put in, so we really can't complain. We just can't pull out without losing the lot.

The Weekly Shop ~ is now a fortnightly shop with a "MFB" mid-fortnight buy - as well as being the acronym for mid-fortnight buy, it stands for Milk, Fruit and Bread! We've been staying within the fortnightly budget of $200-$250 ~ and fortnights where the shop comes in under $200 (like this past fortnight when we only spent $175) the balance goes off a bill - currently the gas.

The current debt is now :
$    0.00 - Dental account
$    0.00 - Refrigerator rental
$    5.00 - School fees
$   32.28 - Water arrears
$   49.90 - Magazine subs
$   88.00 - Electricity and Gas - payment plan costs set
$ 850.00 - HomeCare Services
$ 923.60 - Collections
$3046.98 - Personal Loan
$5628.77 - VISA 
$21420.21 - Line of Credit

$32,052,74 : TOTAL DEBT

We've gone down!! Reduced by a massive $5207.73!  Oh wow, oh joy.  
At the start of December, the total debt was $37, 563.47.  We were so disappointed when the debt increased in November due to the interest and fees and fines applied to the Line Of Credit and the VISA (more because we were struggling to stay on top of the payments) but talking to the banks and those we had debt with through Collections to renegotiate minimum payment amounts - plus doing community service time in lieu of two outstanding accounts not only reduced the dollar amounts outgoing, its allowed us to redirect available (ha) funds toward other accounts.

What a great way to start the year ~ we are feeling a little more empowered and assured we are still on the right track. So ~ every Monday we will again be updating the Weekly Report. Changing it from Wednesday to Monday makes a little more sense as we do the budget over the weekend when we know what is paid into our bank account on Friday.

Tips Which Have Allowed Us to Free Up Cash for Debt Repayments

Working together 
Don't Buy; Make Do ~ seriously I've not bought any 'new' clothes since we started Our Mission and prior to this is was only the OpShop. If something breaks, we try to repair it. At the moment, our lawnmower is held together with wire and okky-straps. Sure, not ideal, but when you don't have a spare $80 for repairs, it gets the job done! Fixing the brake pads on the car might be quicker at the mechanics, but it is cheaper (and often fun) when done yourself. Same with other basic car repairs.
Get's things fixed 

Less is Best; Make it Stretch ~ why make a home made pizza with lashing of meats, herbs, veggies and cheese. Seriously, just a little goes a long long way on something like a pizza.  Same with pasta and sauces ~ you don't have pasta with your sauce, or pie with your sauce. The sauces and toppings are an addition to the pasta, not the other way around. Plus there is less likely to be wasted left overs and more sauce to put away for another day (just make sure you label the item and the date it is being frozen)

Free is Fun; Find Out First ~ committing to not buying books, magazines or newspapers is a huge saving of cash. Going to the library means we are not missing out and calling ahead to ensure the books you want are in the library saves petrol or fares for travelling. We save the cost of the call by checking online and reserving the books if they are in the library. The local council usually has a 'whats on' section and we've enjoyed picnics listening to musicians and bands playing in the gardens or at the rotunda.

Here's hoping you will continue to support us on our journey ~ stay on our tails to keep us motivated and throw an extra dollar or two into our Spare Change Jar or Treasure Chest to help bring the debt down even more. Yes, it is a lot to ask - but if you and your friends can help with a spare dollar or two it will make an enormous difference to us.

Thanks so much for sticking with Our Mission and here's to providing you all with more success stories and the hints and tips we use to reduce our outgoings, pay more on our debt and get out of this vicious cycle. Your input is gratefully received, every time :D

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